Speedy Greek

Fournos combines fast-food efficiency with dining details.

Ned Kelly The Cleveland Cinematheque 7:30 p.m. July 3 and 9:40 p.m. July 4
Add Greek to the mix of international flavors now available at the Rockside Corners shopping center (6901 Rockside Road, Independence), with the recent arrival of Fournos Café. The attractive space at the west end of the plaza joins Chipotle Mexican Grill, Aladdin's, the Winking Lizard, and several other casual eateries in an area that has become sort of an über-food court for the numerous white-collar wonks.

Fournos's managing partner, George Loucaides, has designed a speedy ordering system that ensures that workers will get back to the cube farm quickly. Incoming guests proceed directly to the counter at the rear of the restaurant; order from a fairly circumscribed list of options posted on overhead menu boards (gyros, panini, pastitsio, salads, and the like); and hand over their money, before proceeding to the self-service beverage island and then grabbing a seat at one of the commodious tables or booths -- which, not incidentally, are plenty big enough to accommodate lunch-hour business confabs.

Within minutes, cheerful runners appear with prettily plated meals, served on real china and accompanied by handsome, hefty flatware; the same staffers will return later to clear the table, no tipping required. As a result, lunch at Fournos deftly combines the efficiency of a fast-food pit stop with the niceties of sit-down dining.

Equally as important, Loucaides and his chef, Russ Eberhardt, don't appear to have traded food quality for speed. Side salads ($3.59) are crisp, cold, and amply sized, garnished with goodies ranging from tangy Greek olives to buttery roasted peppers. While a grilled eggplant and zucchini sandwich ($6.29), finished with a muffuletta-style chopped olive-and-herb spread, was more bread than filling, the filling that was there tasted divine. And the house specialty, pastitsio ($6.99) -- a sort of cinnamon-scented Greek lasagna with layers of penne, meat sauce, and béchamel -- was fragrant and flavorful.

For dinner, Loucaides slows the pace, offering full tableside dining, cloth napkins, candlelight, and an expanded menu of Greek specialties, beginning with classics like avgolemono and saganaki, and ending with lamb chops and lemon-roasted chicken. A large patio; full bar with an international wine list; and retail wine sales, at state minimums, round out the amenities.

Fournos (the name means "oven") is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday. Dinner service begins at 4 p.m. Call the café at 216-834-2233.

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